Over the weekend, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni came out to blame the members of security forces;- Uganda Police Force (UPF), Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) and Local Defence Units (LDU) for gross abuse of human rights of Uganda.
Museveni said that their core values while in the bush were not to torture civilians but to protect them. However, the laziness of senior commanders who have failed on several occasions to adequately brief the juniors on what to do and what must not be done especially when the forces are dealing with the public law and order management has caused a lot of problems.
“Yet some time ago I made a categorical order that nobody should be involved with the public if he/she is not conversant with the standing orders of how to deal with the public. Therefore these mistakes have been caused by either indiscipline, not enough sensitization or laziness by the investigators who don’t investigate enough so that we get the fact to convict the criminal, the NRM never believes in revenge,” Museveni said during his televised state of nation address on Security last Saturday.
The President’s statement came at a time when Ugandans have suffered several waves of human rights abuses being manned by the security officers who are not punished for their misdeeds.
Here are the unforgettable brutalities metted on civilians by security forces:
1.On 26th November 2016, Police and the army raided the Rwenzururu kingdom in Kasese district under the command of Lt Gen Peter Elwelu. In this raid, about 150 lives were lost, 200 people including Omusinga (king) of Rwenzururu, Charles Mumbere were arrested, tortured and charged with murder and terrorism. The king was a few months granted bail with conditions not to move outside Kampala metropolitan. Other victims were also granted bail early this year.
2. On 11th May 2017, photos went viral on social media showing how the officers from Police had tortured Geoffrey Byamukama, who was the mayor of Kamwenge Town Council. The mayor was arrested on April 5, detained and tortured by security officials in connection with the murder of the former police spokesman Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kaweesi. The mayor was kept and tortured at the Nalufenya police cells with other suspects.
3. On 27th September 2017, another brutality act happened within the most respected place (Parliament) where Members of Parliament on the opposition side who were opposing the removal of age limit were brutalized by the Special Forces Command soldiers and Police. The SFC soldiers sneaked into the August House without the Speakers’ permission and beat up members and ejected them out. Among the members who were beaten and sustained permanent damages is the Mukono Municipality legislator Betty Nambooze whose spinal cord got a problem and up to date she is still nursing injuries.
4.On 13th April 2018, an encounter between the motorcade of President Museveni and supporters of Kasiano Wadri in Arua town during a by-election (Arua Municipality seat) resulted in the shedding of blood and loss of life to a stray bullet from the security forces. One Yasin Kawuma was killed, hundreds of people were tortured by the security forces including musician turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi.
5. On 20th August 2018, Reuters photojournalist James Akena was beaten by military soldiers in downtown Kampala as he was covering the protest against the arrest and detention Bobi Wine in Arua.
6. On the night of 25th October 2019, the army broke into the hostels of Makerere University students who were protesting against the 15 percent tuition increment, and beat them, destroyed their property. Many of them were hospitalized, some female students also alleged that were molested by the unscrupulous soldiers. Later President Museveni ordered the army to vacate the place and the commander was arrested.
7. On 18th and 19th November 2020 over 60 civilians were shot dead in the riot that erupted following the arrest of the National Unity Platform presidential candidate Bobi Wine in Luuka district. According to the report which was filed by foreign media (BBC), 80 percent of those who were killed were in the productive age.
8. On 30th December 2020, the former National team boxing skipper Isaac Zebra Ssenyange met his death in the hands of security forces in one of Kampala city suburbs Bwaise.
9. On 17th February 2021, journalists who had gone to cover Robert Kyagulanyi who was delivering his petition to United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) offices in Kololo, Kampala were beaten by the army.
In all these tortures perpetrators have not been condemned
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